PENSACOLA—An employee of an offshore transportation service provider filed a federal lawsuit against an insurance company, alleging it denied his right to disability benefits in violation of a 1974 act that protects retirement income.

Brent Buffkin filed a claim on Jan. 12 in the U.S. District Court Northern District of Florida Pensacola Division against Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company, a foreign corporation, alleging violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) for denying due employee benefits to the plaintiff.

According to the suit, Buffkin became totally disabled on Aug. 19, 2009. He subsequently filed an application for long-term disability (LTD) benefits under an employee welfare benefit plan sponsored by his employer, Abdon Callais Offshore LLC, and issued by the defendant. The payments began Feb. 15, 2010, but on March 3, 2015, the plaintiff claims that the defendant provided a written denial of LTD benefits beyond Feb. 15, 2015.

The plaintiff alleges he presented a timely request of appeal along with proof of disability as defined by the plan until he sent a final appeal on Sept. 23. According to Buffkin, the defendant confirmed receiving the information but reported it was in the process of evaluation, which exceeded the 90-day period allotted for such deliberation under ERISA.

Buffkin seeks due benefits, pre-judgment interest and litigation fees. He is represented by Stephanie A. Taylor of Taylor, Warren & Weidner, P.A.

Northern District of Florida Pensacola Division Case number 3:16-cv-00021-MCR-CJK

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